Anime

Anime Preview: Spring 2021

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I definitely took on too many Winter seasonal shows, and I found it really overwhelming to keep up (spoiler: I definitely didn’t keep up at all). Have I learnt my lesson? Absolutely not. I really enjoyed writing up my Winter 2021 Preview post, so I wanted to do it again for the Spring seasonal shows. I’m hoping that I will manage to finish the bulk of my Winter shows before Spring kicks off properly, otherwise it’s going to be a mess of me watching anime on an infinite loop. Again, I’ll try to avoid going over plot points and just focus on my feelings towards the opener for each show. This season, aside from the sequels I’ll be watching, I know nothing about any of the shows at all, so I’m going in totally blind.

Tokyo Revengers

tokyo revengersloved the first episode of Tokyo Revengers. It had everything I love in an anime – it was really suspenseful, it made me laugh a lot, and the cliffhanger at the end of the episode definitely left me wanting more. I got some real Erased vibes from Tokyo Revengers, which is definitely not a bad thing as it’s definitely up there in one of my favourite shows.

 

 

 

To Your Eternity

tyeWow. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much at a show since Banana Fish, and this was only the first episode! To Your Eternity was beautifully animated, it felt so cinematic, and honestly just heartbreaking. The first episode was an incredible opener, and I’m so invested in it already.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro

nagatoroI was really looking forward to Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro because I’d seen screenshots floating around on Twitter and I thought the character design for Nagatoro was really cool and that she looked really cute. Unfortunately, I don’t really have anything good to say about it. It was a really uncomfortable watch from start to finish, as Nagatoro relentlessly bullies her senpai – who is so bland I’ve forgotten his name entirely. It’s not even in a lighthearted making fun of someone because you like them kind of way, it’s just out and out bullying and not something I’m interested in watching.

 

Fairy Ranmaru

fairyThere is a lot going on in Fairy Ranmaru, and honestly it just felt like a total mess. It starts off as a kind of isekai as the fairy characters are sent to the human world, then there’s a sort of magical boy element, and then it turns into a musical with a song halfway through. I honestly felt like I had whiplash watching this show, it just was all over the place. Its saving grace was that the male characters were quite interesting, otherwise it doesn’t have a lot going for it.

 

 

Farewell, My Dear Cramer

cramerI don’t think I’ve ever watched a girl’s sports anime, but Farewell, My Dear Cramer looked really cute so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s about girl’s high school football (I will not succumb and call it soccer!), and the first episode was mostly about the girls joining from their various middle schools and joining the club. It was a really interesting episode as it gives you some backstory about the kinds of players the main girls are, and sets up the premise for the series nicely.

 

 

Koikimo

koikimoI’m a little bit sceptical of this one. Playboy business man falls in love with and pursues his high-school sister’s best friend. I’m sure you’ll understand my reservations. That aside, I did actually really enjoy Koikimo. I thought it was really nicely animated and it made me laugh quite a lot. I’ll still hold onto my scepticism for now, but I was pleasantly surprised.

 

 

 

Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved And Took In A High School Runaway

higehiroAnother seasonal show with a huge age difference! Again, like with Koikimo I went into Higehiro totally wary and ready to bail at any moment, and honestly, I almost did. Yoshida is a 26 year old salaryman who takes in teenaged Sayu after seeing her on the street under a lamppost. She quickly propositions him and tells him she’ll sleep with him if she can stay which is how she has been managing to find places to stay. Yoshida rejects Sayu, which is the only reason I kept watching, but instead he offers to have her live with him in exchange for doing the household chores. Again, like with Koikimo, I’ll remain skeptical as I feel like there’s definitely potential for this to cross some boundaries. I’d really love it if Yoshida and Sayu’s relationship developed into more of a brother/sister one, but I fear that will not be the case.

Oddtaxi

oddtaxiI definitely didn’t expect a show about anthropomorphic animals to be so dark and mysterious. I’m so intrigued by where Oddtaxi is going, I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

 

 

 

 

Those Snow White Notes

snow whiteThose Snow White Notes totally took me by surprise. I thought I’d be getting some sort of high school music club situation, and this is far from that. It’s actually quite dark and deals with some pretty serious themes. I was really pleasantly surprised to be wrong, and it’s definitely one I’ll try to keep up with.

 

 

 

86: Eighty Six

86Maybe I’m stupid, but I found 86 really hard to follow. I think by the end of the episode I’d sort of got the gist, but all the way through the episode I just felt baffled. It’s hard to say whether I enjoyed the episode as for a lot of it I felt totally lost, but I think by the end I can say I liked it. I’ll definitely give it another few episodes.

 

 

 

Backflip!!

backflipI love a sports anime, we all know it. Backflip!! is about men’s rhythm gymnastics. I’ve always enjoyed watching men’s and women’s rhythm gymnastics at the Olympics and such, so it’s cool to see an anime version! The plot hasn’t really kicked off yet, with most sports anime, this first episode was really just about the protagonist joining the club, but it looks to be quite promising. The animation of the performances looked really nice too, I was worried it might go full CG like in an idol anime dance, and whilst I think there was an element of CG it still looked pretty cool.

 

Burning Kabaddi

kabaddiAnother sports anime! This time one for a sport that I was entirely convinced was totally made up until I Googled it after the episode, and was shocked to realise that this contact sport version of tag is real. That aside, Burning Kabaddi was totally unique and chaotic, but in a good way. The protagonist doesn’t even want to be in the club, for one, but he’s basically blackmailed into joining. It made me laugh a lot and I’m really intrigued to see where it goes and how actual matches of this weird sport work.

 

 

Let’s Make A Mug Too

mugThis is a totally wholesome school club anime about a pottery club. Episodes are short, which is just as well because not a lot happens, and they’re surprisingly informative about the Japanese pottery scene. I’ll keep watching it because it’s quite sweet, but I can’t envisage it being a standout for the season.

 

 

 

The Pretty Boy Detective Club

pbdcI’d seen a lot of people hyping up The Pretty Boy Detective Club online so it felt like one I wanted to watch – who doesn’t like pretty anime boys, anyway? I’m not sure how I feel about it after the first airing, I like the premise of a detective club filled with pretty boys, but they all felt very shallow and there didn’t feel like there was a lot of substance to the plot, feeling almost like a knock-off Ouran. The animation choices were really interesting though, and there were some beautiful moments.

 

 

Sequels-wise, I’ll be watching the new seasons of My Hero Academia, Moriarty the Patriot, Zombieland Saga and Fruits Basket. What a great season!

Games, Platinum Review

Platinum Review Rework

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I’ve been a bit inactive lately, but I’ve always got the blog on my mind! I’ve been thinking up new features, and how to refresh old features. The first thing I want to implement is a change to how I do my Platinum Reviews.

Up until this point, I have been doing separate Platinum Reviews to normal game reviews, meaning each game I do a Platinum Review for gets two articles. I’m changing this so the review is within the same article. This means each Platinum Review will be a bit more substantial and will include my thoughts on the game as a whole as well as how I found the process for getting the platinum trophy. I’ll include links as usual to any walkthroughs I followed.

Scoring wise, each Platinum Review will have a usual game review rating out of 10, and a score on how difficult I found the platinum, also out of 10. I’ll try to quantify how long it took me, but some games don’t have in-game timers, so this might be a bit hit and miss.

I hope you like what I plan to do!

Film Reviews, Films

Review: Yes, No, Or Maybe?

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Yes, No, Or Maybe? is a fairly short film – standing at 53 minutes. There’s a lot packed into the short run time, and for the most part it’s a joy to watch. This review will contain spoilers for the end, but I’ll warn you before it’s about to be mentioned, so read with caution.

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The focus of Yes, No, Or Maybe? is Kei Kunieda, a friendly newscaster with a sunny disposition. Kei has a secret – he’s actually pretty grouchy and is pretty much constantly inwardly cursing at other people. This is done to great effect throughout the film showing Kei’s inner thoughts as a little chibi figure on screen, so whilst IRL Kei might be thanking someone profusely, chibi Kei will be cursing them up a storm. It’s a really funny juxtaposition that works really well, and is much more effective than just having a voiceover show Kei’s inner thoughts.

One day, Kei is asked to interview Ushio Tsuzuki, a stop-motion animator. Following the interview, an off-duty and disguised Kei bumps into Ushio (quite literally) outside a convenience store, and after unleashing a barrage of abuse at Ushio reluctantly agrees to help him with his work after injuring him.

What follows is a back and forth between Kei and Ushio as Kei interacts with Ushio both using his work persona and his true self, and struggles to reconcile his feelings with who he truly is as a person. Being a shounen ai, there’s obviously a romantic undertone and typically of a BL anime, there’s some struggle as Kei deals with his romantic thoughts towards another man.

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Yes, No, Or Maybe? presents two really well written characters. Kei and Ushio are both really well developed and each have their own nuances and motivations. I really related to Kei having his private and public personas, as I feel like often I’m very different publicly to how I am privately, and as I said before, the way the film presents this is really effective.

I really liked the animation of Yes, No, Or Maybe?, it felt really soft and natural, with a pretty realistic colour palette, which added to the romantic tone of the movie. Whilst Yes, No, Or Maybe? is primarily a drama, it does have some really funny moments, especially between Kei’s private persona and his inner thoughts. 

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Whilst I wouldn’t want to get into spoiler territory, I feel it’s worth mentioning the end as it could be a huge trigger for viewers and could be the difference between someone watching it or not. If you don’t want to know spoilers, don’t read the next paragraph and just know that I really disliked the final scenes of Yes, No, or Maybe?

The end scene is really hard to bear and features the worst of all BL tropes – dubious consent. Except, it’s really not dubious, it’s pretty clear and repeatedly said that it’s a firm no. It’s a real shame, because up until this point, the movie was golden and the whole scene just sours the wholesome and romantic vibe of Yes, No, or Maybe? up until that point. I’m really interested to pick up the light novel to see how that compares to the film, I would hope that it isn’t so non-consensual but my experience with BL makes me think otherwise.

8 stars

Game Reviews, Games

Review: Kaze and the Wild Masks

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Kaze and the Wild Masks is a 2D platformer described by developers PixelHive as ’90s inspired’. This is definitely accurate, as there’s a majorly nostalgic vibe, from the slightly retro feeling artwork and music to the lack of dialogue. It simultaneously feels years old and brand new.

Read my full review at Push Square.

kaze

Anime, Anime Reviews

Review: Given Movie

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The following review contains spoilers for the Given Movie and the anime series. 

given movie

The Given movie is the 59 minute follow-up to 2019’s smash anime series of the same name. Adapted from an ongoing manga series, Given centres around a band of boys – two highschoolers and two college students – as they fall in love with playing music together, and with each other.

Of course, the anime left off with Mafuyu and Uenoyama getting together after some mutual pining and dealing with some underlying trauma. The focus of this movie shifts to their bandmates Akihiko and Haruki. We discovered in the series that Haruki has been in love with Akihiko for some time, whereas Akihiko seems to be a lot more of a playboy and has a different girl on his arm constantly.

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Having read the manga past this story arc, I was a little hesitant to watch the film. There was a lot I didn’t like about the arc portrayed in the film when I read it in the manga. That’s not to say it’s not good, it’s just very raw and a little bit darker but this shouldn’t be a surprise with the content from the first series of the show in mind.

Throughout the movie, it’s very clear that Akihiko has a very toxic relationship with his live-in lover Ugetsu. Neither of them seem to really want to give the other up, but they’re absolutely no good for each other. This is pretty clear throughout the whole movie. Akihiko’s behaviour ends up spiralling as a result and he acts in a truly despicable way. There’s an interesting juxtaposition between Akihiko’s behaviour when he’s influenced by interactions with Ugetsu, and those with Haruki which further cements the toxicity of Akihiko’s relationship.

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Throughout the movie there’s a multitude of levels to the characterisation. At first glance, Akihiko and Ugetsu seem like thoroughly despicable characters, both only looking out for themselves, and whilst there certainly seems to remain an element of this, there’s also a lot of depth to their relationship which becomes uncovered and you can begin to kind of see why they act the way they do. There’s also a undertone of not being able to let your first love go, which I think a lot of people can relate to.

With Ugetsu in mind, I’m really pleased at how he has been portrayed. I think it would have been really easy for him to be vilified as the mean man who is keeping Akihiko and Haruki apart, but there’s actually a really soft side to him and he is characterised really well. His interactions with Mafuyu are especially touching, as we see him helping Mafuyu to write a new song and eventually learning to trust him enough to talk about his feelings with him.

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As you’d expect from a film centred around the lives of musicians, the music in Given is impeccable. From Ugetsu’s classical violin playing, to the rock stylings of the band, the music throughout is evocative and emotional. The music always really adds to the emotion of any scene, and perfectly encapsulates the feeling of the moment.

A lot is packed into the Given movie’s short run-time, which can kind of leave your head reeling, but there are some really sweet and tender moments in amongst all of the angst. The Given movie is a near perfect continuation of a series which was so beloved, and won’t disappoint fans.

9 stars

manga, Manga reviews

Review: A Sign of Affection vol. 1

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Story and art: suu Morishita
Genre: Romance, Shoujo
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Synopsis: Yuki, who’s always been deaf, is used to communicating with sign language and her phone. But she’s not used to English, so when a tourist from overseas asks for directions, she nearly panics…until a handsome stranger steps in to help. His name is Itsuomi, and it turns out he’s a friend of a friend. A charismatic globetrotter, Itsuomi speaks three languages, but he’s never had a deaf friend. The two feel drawn to each other and plan a date on a romantic winter’s night…but Yuki’s friend is afraid that she might be setting herself up to get hurt. Could this be something real? Or will these feelings melt away with the snow?
Publication date: 23rd February 2021

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free e-copy of this manga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Protagonist Yuki is deaf, and struggles her way through a hearing world. When a foreign stranger asks her for directions on the train, she panics and a nearby Itsuomi steps in to assist. Yuki is pretty entranced from the get go, and discovers that her path crosses with Itsuomi’s a lot more than she anticipated.

Yuki thinks a lot about how she wants her relationship with Itsuomi to be defined, and what love means to her. She has a few close friends, a girl named Rin who she goes to college with and her male childhood friend named Oushi. Other than Yuki, Oushi is the only other person who can speak sign language.

Itsuomi is the polar opposite of Yuki. Whereas Yuki seems content with her small world, and has resigned herself to the fact there’s a lot she can’t do, Itsuomi throws himself into experience after experience. It’s introduced early on that he has a passion for travelling and learning languages. Over the course of just the first volume through her blossoming relationship with Itsuomi it occurs to Yuki that the world is a lot bigger than she realises and she starts to yearn for more experiences, which is really sweet to see as Yuki accepts she can have the same experiences as everyone else.

Yuki is also a very sweet and seemingly naive girl, where Itsuomi comes across at least initially as a bit of a playboy. As a reader there’s a real urge to want to protect Yuki, and make sure Itsuomi is legitimate and not messing with her feelings, which I think is a real testament to how well the characters in A Sign of Affection are written that after only a few chapters of the first volume, I cared that much about Yuki.

It would be remiss to talk about A Sign of Affection and not mention the portrayal of deafness throughout the manga. As someone who is losing their hearing, a lot of the challenges Yuki faces are things I’ve thought about and considered for down the road in my own life. Though I am losing my hearing, I am not deaf by any means, and I don’t currently use any hearing aids. That said, I think Yuki’s deafness is portrayed really well. Different fonts are used for conversations Yuki is lipreading, and the sign language is really nicely illustrated as well.

This first volume of A Sign of Affection is a charming beginning to the start of Yuki’s story. There’s a lot of potential for drama, and the wonderful characterisation throughout the manga has you really rooting for Yuki and hoping she succeeds in all of her pursuits. 5 stars

 

NetGalley requires users to rate on a star rating of 5, so I have adjusted my star ratings for any reviews for manga reviewed via NetGalley. Non-NetGalley reviews will remain out of 10.

Anime, Anime Reviews

Review: Blood Lad

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Anime: Blood Lad
Studio: Brain’s Base
Crunchyroll description: Staz is one of the toughest vampires in the demon world. But unlike his ancestors, he finds being a vampire to be a serious pain in the ass and prefers to spend his time watching anime and playing video games instead. When a Japanese girl named Fuyumi wanders into his territory, Staz cannot hide his excitement at finally meeting a living human from his favourite culture.
Genres: Action, Comedy, Supernatural, Seinen
Original run: 08/07/2013 to 11/9/2013
Episodes: 10

blood lad

As much as I love supernatural genre anime, I’m often put off. I’ve watched some really great shows which fall in the genre, but I’ve also watched some duds, and my search for my absolute favourite supernatural show continues (though props to Erased and Parasyte which are leading the pack). Supernatural shows can be convoluted, packed with conflicting lore and hard to follow, but done right, they can be exciting and a fun break from reality.

Blood Lad follows the story of Staz. C Blood, a vampire and the boss of his territory, one of the most powerful demons in the demon world. Staz is an otaku, fascinated with the human world and amassing a collection of manga, anime and figurines that would put most IRL weebs to shame. When a Japanese girl named Fuyumi enters the demon world by accident, Staz feels like he’s hit the jackpot – that is, until she dies. Staz vows to resurrect Fuyumi, who is now living in the demon world as a ghost.

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Straight off the bat, it’s revealed that Staz hates being a vampire, he finds it incredibly arduous and has no interest in doing ‘typical’ vampire activities, like drinking blood. He’d much rather stay indoors and watch anime, or play games. I really liked this juxtaposition and it was fun to see Staz reluctantly using his power, as well as see how he feels about other demons.

Blood Lad is chock full of fan service. All female characters have boobs that are disproportionately big, not to mention which employ their own laws of physics. There are upskirt shots aplenty, and situations where Fuyumi in particular is found in compromising positions. It’s a little off-putting, and I definitely think the show is strong enough to not have to rely on these sorts of things to keep interest. However, I’m not a fan of overt fan-service in the first place, so even if this was perfectly placed and tonally perfect, I probably wouldn’t have liked it anyway.

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Around the midway point of the season, the show introduces a ‘big bad’ who is supposed to be a super demon, the toughest ever and who noone can defeat. This turns out to be incredibly anti-climatic, and easily defeated. There’s a hint that this could develop in the future, but as I’ll discuss later, this goes nowhere.

The fight scenes themselves are really cool and well animated. With the anime being set in the demon world, each character has their own strengths and powers, and it was really interesting to see these powers being used and the different tactics of how the powers could be used to their advantages and even against them.

Blood Lad features a great cast of supporting characters, from Staz’s own allies to his enemies and beyond. I didn’t feel like there were any weak characters, apart from perhaps Fuyumi herself. She just sort of goes along with whatever everyone tells her to do, and doesn’t really ever voice her own opinions or say what she wants. I get that she’s in a strange world (and also kinda dead), but she was just sort of subservient and submissive, which was disappointing.

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Speaking of disappointing, the end of Blood Lad is infuriating. Don’t go into this anime if you like things wrapped up neatly. For whatever reason, there isn’t a second season, so it just ends with no resolution. It’s all perfectly set up for another season, but it just doesn’t exist, and the only way for me to get closure is to add the manga to my to read list.

Blood Lad is super fun, and doesn’t take itself seriously at all. I laughed out loud on several occasions throughout the series, and came to really love a lot of the characters. The lack of a satisfactory standalone ending loses Blood Lad some points, but in general it’s an enjoyable watch.

7 stars

2021 challenges, Challenges

2021 Challenges: February Recap

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February was a significantly better month than January, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. I still have that sinking feeling that my challenges are really optimistic, but I’m still going to give it my best shot. Here’s where I’m at on my challenges as of the end of February!

Watch 45 anime

February end total: 1

My anime watching in 2021 has been abysmal. I definitely took on too many seasonal shows, and everything else has suffered as a result. I’d like to say I’m up-to-date on the seasonal stuff too, but that would be a colossal lie. Anyway, I have managed to watch Blood Lad (review pending), so at least I’ve got one under the belt!

Read 50 complete manga

February end total: 1

It felt like in 2020 all I did was read manga, but 2021 is not proving the same. I’ve read one complete manga – Haru’s Curse. I’m definitely going to up this, but I’m focusing on reading novels for now whilst I seem to be in the swing of reading.

Watch 30 films

February end total: 1

I cannot believe I haven’t watched any more films so far! I still only have Jojo Rabbit on my list!

Watch 30 anime films

February end total: 0

Unbelievable and embarrassing.

Get 35 platinum trophies

February end total: 4

I had a much better month for platinum trophies in February than I did in January. I picked up a few cheap indie games in the current PSN sale, which proved very quick to get. On the list for platinum trophies obtained in February are We Were Here, Road Bustle, Chickens on the Road, and JigSaw Abundance. 

Clear 30 games from my backlog

February end total: 0

I am very much working on this, but games take a long time, you know?

Play 12 Switch games

February end total: 0

I am also working on this, but there’s only so much time in a day!

Read 12 books

February end total: 2

I felt like in February I got back into my reading groove – I read The Last and The Poppy War. I also started reading another book, but it’s still ongoing. My aim is to smash this target early, and then free up myself to work on other challenges.

blog, Unboxing

Unboxing: February Inku Crate

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I think I’ve really developed a stationery habit in 2021. I’m not complaining, as it gives me lots of cute items to use both in every day life and when I’m working on my journal! I love the practicality of having stationery subscription boxes, and I’m finding I’m getting much more out of them than the regular subscription boxes I was getting, so I’ve continued!

IMG_8765 In February I got a few smaller subscription boxes via Etsy, which I didn’t do posts on, but I also got an Inku Crate as I have done in previous months. It was a little smaller than ones I’ve had before, but still jam-packed with cute goodies!

 

 

 

 

IMG_8766First up, I got this pencil case with Taa-chan on, who I believe is an established character (I’m actually not a cat person at all, so I don’t generally check out many cat characters, sorry everyone!). A pencil case was definitely needed, what with all the pens I’ve been getting in these sub boxes! Speaking of, I also got a Pokémon pen which I’ve already used in my bullet journalling! I also got a pencil that made me very nostalgic – it’s one of the ones that you take out from the bottom and then put in the top to change the colour you’re using. A rubbish explanation but I hope you know what I mean!

IMG_8769Next, the most adorable mini memo pads which came with their own pouches. It says they’re pocket sized – I’m not sure I can think of a situation I’d be in where I need to carry memo pads in my pocket, but you never know!

 

 

IMG_8770I also got a Sumikko Gurashi paper pad and a gluestick – again, both perfect for bullet journalling! I’m going to use the paper for a theme for a future month as it arrived a little too late for me to use for this month, but I’m thinking of cute ideas I can implement when I use them!

 

IMG_8767Finally, I got these stickers! They’re all chocolate themed, and were supposed to be for Valentine’s day, but that’s obviously been and gone now. They’re still really cute, and aren’t overly themed so it’s no big deal they weren’t here in time for Valentine’s.

 

 

 

A pretty decent haul, I think you’ll agree! What was your favourite item in this month’s Inku Crate?

manga, Manga reviews

Review: Those Not-So-Sweet Boys vol. 1

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Story and art: Yoko Nogiri
Genre: Romance, School, Shoujo
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Synopsis: Midori drops her wallet on her first day of high school, but her new classmate Ichijo swoops in to help. She wants to thank him, but he’s part of a tight-knit trio and none of them are ever in class! Rumour has it that they all got expelled for acting up, and studious Midori’s actually at risk of expulsion, too… In order to help support her family, she has a part-time job, which is against the school rules. When the chairman of the school board catches her leaving work, he says he’ll let it go—but only if she’s up to the task of bringing the three boys back to school. Well, why not? It’ll be a piece of cake…right?
Publication date: 16th February 2021

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free e-copy of this manga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Midori Nanami is your typical shoujo protagonist. She’s sweet, well-meaning and kind of an airhead. On her first day of high school, Midori drops her wallet with her family’s weekly food budget in, only for it to be reclaimed by one of her new classmates, Ichijo. Ichijo and his two friends Ieiri and Goshima keep themselves to themselves, and there are tonnes of rumours swirling round school about them, some true and some not so much. When Midori is caught coming out of her part-time job, the highschool chairman strikes her a deal – get Ichijo and co. to attend school regularly, and he’ll help her find a school-sanctioned job.

I’ve read the mangaka’s other work, Love in Focus and That Wolf-Boy Is Mine!, and Those Not-So Sweet Boys does bear some similarities. This is more obvious with That Wolf-Boy Is Mine! with the inclusion of a group of boys that the protagonist gets close to, some more willingly than others. Those Not-So Sweet Boys isn’t a cut and copy though – for one thing, none of the boys can change into animals, or haven’t done yet anyway! The mangaka’s previous two manga feature wonderful characterisation and deep relationships, and Those Not-So Sweet Boys is no different.

Whilst it certainly feels that Ichijo is being set up to be the canon romance, Ieiri and Goshima are also awarded the same development. Whilst the opening volume admittedly focuses on Ichijo primarily, there’s a lot introduced which will open up Ieiri and Goshima in future volumes, making it more difficult for the reader to decide who to root for.

The title of the manga is an interesting one to me, as none of the boys seem particularly ‘not-so sweet’. Once you know a little about their backstories, they all seem to have their reasons for wanting to isolate themselves, and whilst they act a little distant towards Midori, none of them are outwardly cruel to her.

Midori is very aware of the effect the boys have on her early on, which is interesting to see, as normally it takes shoujo protagonists a long time to realise they have feelings for anyone. I hope that future volumes focus on Midori understanding her feelings, rather than rejecting them, and there’s certainly a lot of promise for romance in Midori’s near future.

Volume 1 of Those Not-So Sweet Boys was a great introduction to the story. It made me really care about all of the characters, and I look forward to continuing the manga in the future. Those Not-So Sweet Boys offers the perfect blend of romance, drama and comedy, and was a joy to read.

4 stars

 

 

NetGalley requires users to rate on a star rating of 5, so I have adjusted my star ratings for any reviews for manga reviewed via NetGalley. Non-NetGalley reviews will remain out of 10.